Full transcription of Virginia's first gubernatorial debate

Full transcription of Virginia's first gubernatorial debate
Posted at 11:11 PM, Sep 16, 2021

Susan Page: The first question is a result of a coin toss. We'll start with Mr. Youngkin. Mr. Youngkin more than 12,000 people in Virginia have died from COVID-19 and more than 800,000 have been diagnosed with the virus. After some progress, the Delta variant has made things worse. President Biden last week ordered sweeping new vaccination requirements affecting federal employees, private companies with 100 or more employees and others. Most Republican governors have vowed to challenge the constitutionality of his actions. My question, as governor, would you challenge Biden's mandates in court? And would you urge companies in Virginia to comply with or to defy the President's mandates affecting their workers? You have 60 seconds.

Glenn Youngkin: Great, Thank you, Susan. This is an incredibly important topic right now. But let me just start with my position on vaccines. I have been a strong, strong advocate for everyone to get the vaccine. I do believe that individuals should be allowed to make that decision on their own. But that's why I launched a public service announcement to encourage people to get the vaccine. I believe that right now, we face a real difference between my opponent and me. Although just five weeks ago, he was pretty much in my same position, encouraging businesses to in fact make their own decision. But he changed that position, I think when it became politically expedient. I think what we need to do right now is make sure that everyone in Virginia understands that getting the vaccine is the most important thing we can do. That's why I invited Terry to actually do a PSA with me. So we can encourage all Virginians to get the vaccine. When I'm leading Virginia, we're going to make sure that Virginians understand the best way to keep themselves healthy. We're going to provide all the best information. And we're going to encourage Virginians to take that.

Susan Page: Thank you. Just very quickly, yes or no. Would you challenge the constitutionality of Biden's mandates in court?

Glenn Youngkin: Yeah, I don't believe that President Biden has the authority to dictate to everyone that we have to take the vaccine. So I would encourage everyone to get the vaccine, but I don't believe he has the authority to do so.

Susan Page: Mr. McAuliffe, you have set a goal that every child in Virginia be vaccinated. But you wouldn't mandate it, you'd leave that to the school districts to decide. But Virginia, the state already requires students to have 11 different vaccinations at various ages to attend school. COVID is a more dangerous health threat to them today than polio or some of those other diseases. So my question is, should the state add COVID to that list that requires all students who are age-appropriate to get a COVID shot?

Terry McAuliffe: First of all, I've been very out front on people getting vaccinations. I've called for employers to mandate of their employees. I've called for everyone who works in a hospital to be vaccinated. I've called for every individual who works at a long-term care facility or a nursing home. Everybody who works in K through 12. Everybody who attends higher ed, I have been very strong on this from day one. And Glenn and I differ on this issue, his anti-Vax rhetoric out there. He told college students, if you don't want to take the vaccine, just fill out an exemption. You know, I think that's life-threatening. And I think that's disqualifying as governor. He doesn't believe in forcing people to understand what COVID is going to do to the state and to this country. It's still raging all across the country. Right here in this county, all the ICU beds are full. So I am for requiring, mandate vaccinations. He's not, he likes to do PSAs. PSAs aren't going to get anything. I want everybody to be vaccinated here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Susan Page: So yes or no. Would you add COVID to the list of required vaccines for students?

Terry McAuliffe: Well, above the age of 12. We don't know the FDA has not done the analysis under 12. So we couldn't do that. But I want everybody to be vaccinated.

Susan Page: So for students above the age of 12 would you support adding the COVID vaccine?

Terry McAuliffe: Absolutely. I want everybody vaccinated. This COVID is not going away. You read your stories. We could be here for 18 months. I'm showing leadership. I'm not doing PSA. I'm telling you.

Susan Page: Mr. Youngkin, let me give you 30 seconds to respond.

Glenn Youngkin: Thank you. What you're going to hear tonight from my opponent is going to be a series of lies and excuses and radical, radical positions. He just started. He told a lot of lies about my positions during this campaign. He just told the biggest one. My position on the vaccine has been very clear. I absolutely encourage all Virginians to get the vaccine. And we'll go to work together to make sure that you have all the information you need to feel good about it. My opponent has said he wants to make life difficult for people who don't get the vaccine. I think Virginians have suffered enough to have a governor make their life difficult.

Terry McAuliffe: He's not requiring vaccinations. That is the difference between the two of us. Asking you to do a PSA is a political stunt. It's a political stunt. This is a tough job being governor, your job is to keep folks safe. He's denying that he told college students to fill out an exemption. That's not true, we will release the tape right now as we speak. He's telling college students if you don't want to get it, don't get it. Do an exemption for whatever reason that is disqualifying in my book to be governor. You got to stand up and show leadership.

Glenn Youngkin: He called me anti-Vax. That's a lie. I'm not anti-Vax. In fact, he appointed a woman to the George Mason board that was absolutely anti-Vax. And the only reason he did it is because she gave him hundreds of thousands of dollars for his campaign, his position flip flops based on who's paying him, and in this case, I support the vaccine. I stand up for the vaccines. But I respect individual's ability to make that decision.

Terry McAuliffe: So we should just all understand where we are. It's all fluff words. PSAs, who cares about a PSA? Half the people don't even know who you are on TV. I am for mandating vaccinations for people who teach our children in school for children who go and higher ed hospitals, nursing homes.

Candace Burns: Mr. McAuliffe, The pandemic revealed major problems within the Virginia Employment Commission. The agency has been overwhelmed with claims and newsrooms around the Commonwealth have been inundated with calls and emails, we're hearing from frustrated Virginians in need of emergency benefits. And they have been left in limbo with no explanation. While the VEC says it has cleared a backlog of appeals, thousands are still waiting for their cases to be reviewed. The agency faces a class-action lawsuit. How can you assure Virginians that the VEC will be fixed and will be held accountable when another disaster occurs?

Terry McAuliffe: Sure, and I'll make sure all of our agencies work as I did last time. I worked in a bipartisan way with my Republican legislature. We work together on transportation, Veterans Affairs, education. That's why so many Republicans have endorsed me already. And we worked together in fixing transportation when we had a broken agency, we came up with Smart Scale, which became the model for the rest of the United States of America. So I will invest time, resources, whatever we need. If there was a problem before. I remind you, when I came into government before, our economy was in chaos, I created 200,000, new high paying jobs, personal income went up 14%. I got thousands of people healthcare, I leaned in to lift up everyone's life. So my first goal will be to get everybody off unemployment. But of those that may need it, we're going to fix any agency. I did this in a bipartisan way. That's why so many Republicans have endorsed my candidacy for governor.

Glenn Youngkin: Yes, well, what we've seen over the course of this pandemic is a failed rollout of the vaccine where Virginia was ranked 50th in the rollout of the vaccine. And then we've seen the Virginia Employment Commission that's supposed to be there in order to support those Virginians. 1.8 million Virginians who had to file for first-time unemployment benefits during this pandemic, who couldn't get claims processed. It took a Supreme Court ruling to get them to go to work. I believe this is what you get when you, in fact, put people into these jobs that have never run a business never run anything in their life. I'm going to go to work on day one. We're gonna make government work for Virginians. And on day one, we're going to go to work on the Virginia Employment Commission. And we're going to go to work on the DMV, and we're going to introduce the concept of customer service, not a flawed process that actually processed $50 million of false claims and couldn't process the ones that legitimate Virginians who needed help, could get. This is what a leader does, fixes problems, and I'm going to go to work fixing problems.

Terry McAuliffe: Thank you. I have a record of creating jobs. Glenn Youngkin was at The Carlyle Group before they threw him out. What did he do? They bought mobile homes, they raised the rents. People had to make the decision. Do I pay my rent? Or do I buy my food? They bought nursing homes, they neglected seniors. People died, including five right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I have a record of creating high-paying jobs. Your record at Carlyle is outsourcing jobs to foreign countries, that's your record, we don't need that here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Glenn Youngkin: Again, Mr. McAuliffe is very comfortable telling lies. I mean, these concepts are bogus. I mean, the reality is that he felt so good about the Carlyle Group that he invested millions of dollars of his money that Bill Clinton let him scrape off of, the money he was raising for the Clinton Foundation. Terry, thank you for the big endorsement. Thank you. And if you can trust me with your money, the rest of Virginia can trust me too.

Terry McAuliffe: It wasn't you I trusted because I lost it.

Bob Holsworth: We're in a region of Virginia this evening that hasn't shared in the Commonwealth's prosperity. So I'd like to ask you about coal climate change in strategy for revitalizing Southwest's economy. The Assembly passed and Governor Northam signed the Clean Economy Act, mandating zero carbon emissions by 2050. McAuliffe your opponent would move to 2035. Would you, if you were governor, have signed the Clean Economy Act? And could you explain for people in the most specific terms how your plans for the southwest Virginia economic recovery would differ from that of Governor Northam and McAuliffe.

Glenn Youngkin: Yes. Well, thank you for that most important question. And I am incredibly humbled to be here tonight. Because in this part of Virginia, what we have seen is a dramatic lack of participation support from Richmond. And in fact, just last week, I was in Hurley, visiting, with all those just terribly, terribly unfortunate people who lost their homes. And in fact, there was even a death. Richmond has to go to work for southwest Virginia and has not done it so far. There are incredible opportunities here to grow the economy to, in fact, invest in new jobs, and we just haven't seen Richmond deliver. We should be a hub for logistics, we must, in fact, invest in infrastructure, broadband across southwest Virginia, the Coalfields Expressway has to be completed, so that we can become a center of commerce. But we have to go to work and not just give empty promises. And that's what I'm going to do as, as governor of Virginia, is I'm going to go to work for southwest Virginia.

Bob Holsworth: Can I just ask one part of the question again? Would you have signed the Clean Economy Act as governor?

Glenn Youngkin: No, sir, I wouldn't have. I believe that, in fact, we can tackle bringing down emissions in Virginia without putting forth a plan that not even executives at the utilities believe is doable. It's gonna, in fact, increase Virginian's bills by up to $1,000 a year, it puts our entire energy grid at risk. All in play for some political purpose. I believe in all energy sources, we can use wind and solar, but we need to preserve our clean natural gas and we can, in fact, have a reliable energy grid.

Terry McAuliffe: Yes, of course, I would sign it. If you look at my plan, I'm calling for clean energy by 2035. And when I think of clean energy, I think jobs. I mean, we're talking thousands and thousands of new jobs. That's what I think of when I think of clean energy. That is our future. When I was governor, I signed the first offshore federal lease for wind turbines. And guess what, we have two turbines right now, 27 miles off the coast of Virginia Beach, lighting up 3,000 homes, we have four permits in front of the BOEM. When they get approved in three years, we'll have 200,000 wind turbines by about there, lighting up 500,000 homes. But my goal, I want to see us take that Portsmouth ring terminal and turn it into the green energy manufacturing hub that will help all parts of Virginia, will help here in southwest Virginia. I was very proud when I was governor, I brought unemployment down in every single city and county in Virginia. Every rural county saw their unemployment dropped by nearly 50%. I'm very proud. But in order to do that, we got to have vaccines, people have got to be vaccinated and as governor, I will get people vaccinated.

Bob Holsworth: Mr. McAuliffe, a number of delegates here have expressed reservations about some of the claims that Democrats have made about the possibility of green jobs revitalizing the economy here. What's your sense of that, in this region.

Terry McAuliffe: Huge opportunity for us here in this region. What we need to do is be manufacturing. Right now, what they do is a lot of the blades, turbines and poles. They're manufactured in Europe, and then they're brought over by ship to New York, assembled. Forget that. I want them all assembled here. Let's build a major, down at Portsmouth. I think we can build the biggest in the United States of America. Those jobs will be Bob throughout the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, the welders, electricians, everything we need. So we can become the hub and we will be the hub when I'm governor. I believe in clean energy. You know, when Trump pulled us out of the Paris Climate, that was a bad thing.

Glenn Youngkin: Thank you. We see real challenges and getting to the goals that have been set in the original Virginia Clean Economy Act and my opponent wants to accelerate them and destabilize our entire energy grid. We've seen what happens in California, when in fact, you don't have a reliable energy grid. So if you like what you just heard from my opponent get ready for blackouts and brownouts and an unreliable energy grid. We can do this with common sense. We should embrace all energy sources. Yes, wind, yes, solar. But we can't dismantle our reliable, clean, inexpensive natural gas. Thank you.

Susan Page: Mr. McAuliffe. Virginia law now bans abortions in the third trimester of pregnancy unless three doctors certify the pregnancy would likely kill the woman or substantially impair her health. Some critics say this puts an undue burden on those in rural areas where doctors often are scarce. There has been a proposal to reduce the number of doctors required to one and to change the medical standard to the damage of a woman's health. So here's my question. If the Virginia legislature passed that proposal, would you sign it into law?

Terry McAuliffe: So the issue here is, in order for a woman to get an abortion in the third trimester, you have to have a primary doctor certified. And then you have to have two other doctors. The problems you have in rural parts of our state, is there are now three doctors. So that really puts women in rural communities at a real disadvantage. So if they came up with a solution, if a woman's life has to be in danger has to be certified. If you have a legitimate doctor that says this woman, her life is in danger, of course, I would support that I'll do anything I can. And that's the difference. My opponent is, you know, wants to ban abortions. He has said that he got caught secretly on tape, saying I will go on offense, I will go on offense to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions. And then he said, Oh, but we're not going to tell the voters about it. Because if they find out the independents won't vote for me, but don't worry, I won't go squish down. I can tell you this to women watching tonight. I was a brick wall. I kept our 16 women's clinics open when I was governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia. And if we allow this Texas law, I can tell you this, Amazon, Google Facebook. It's dangerous for a woman's life, but it also is crippling to the Virginia economy.

Susan Page: Mr. Youngkin, in recent years, eight states have enacted bans on abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected at about the sixth week of pregnancy. Most of them have been blocked by the courts. But this month, a Texas ban did go into effect. The Texas law includes controversial enforcement provisions. I am not asking about those. Here is my question. If the Virginia legislature passed a fetal heartbeat ban on abortion, one that included the exceptions you support for rape, incest, and to preserve the life of the mother, would you sign it into law?

Glenn Youngkin: Thank you, Susan. This is an incredibly sensitive and personal topic. And I do appreciate the fact that you would like to write legislation with me. I think the Texas bill is one that is the standard right now that we're all looking at. And I would not sign the Texas bill today. As I've said through this entire campaign, I'm pro-life. I believe in exceptions in the case of rape and incest and when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. But the Texas bill also is unworkable and confusing. What we're not doing this evening is talking to my opponent about his extreme views. See, my opponent doesn't want to talk about this topic tonight because he actually called legislation that would enable abortion paid for with taxpayer money all the way up through and including birth, where a child is kept comfortable. While the decision is made whether that child lives or dies. He called that legislation, common-sense legislation and said he would sign it. Friends, my opponent wants to be the abortion governor. And I want to be the job's governor.

Susan Page: Mr. Youngkin, I just want to be clear, you said you wouldn't sign a Texas law. But I'm not asking about the Texas law. I'm asking about a law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. And a law that includes the exceptions you support for rape, incest, and to preserve the life of the mother, would you sign that?

Glenn Youngkin: Susan, we can sit down and write legislation together. What I have said is that I do believe that a pain threshold bill legislation would be appropriate. But again, I do hope that you'll ask my opponent, what objections he has to where abortion should be stopped so that we can all understand his extreme views.

Terry McAuliffe: I'll be very clear. And I'll say this, again, to every woman watching tonight. I will protect your rights. I believe a woman ought to make a decision about her own reproductive rights. And I will support those and I was a brick wall. While I was governor. I vetoed all the bills that he would have proposed that ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood. I support the laws that we have on the books today. I would like to see, because I am terrified today about what's happened with the Trump Supreme Court, I am terrified today that they will roll back Roe v. Wade. So I would like to the only mention that I like to see is enshrining Roe v. Wade, in the Virginia Constitution.

Glenn Youngkin: Again, my opponent's very comfortable not letting truth get in the way of anything he says. I mean just this week, The Washington Post gave him more Pinocchio's in his characterization of my position. As I have said, I'm pro-life. I believe in exceptions for rape and incest and when the mother's life is at risk. As I said, I would not sign the Texas bill. My opponent ignores the truth. He's the most extreme pro-abortion candidate in America today. And he's marketing Virginia as a place to come get an abortion.

Terry McAuliffe: I support the laws, I support a woman's right to make her own decision through a second trimester. That's what I support. And guess what? 80% of Virginians agree with what I just said. They do not agree with Glenn Youngkin, who got secretly caught on tape saying he will ban abortions and defund Planned Parenthood. He told his closest supporters he'll go on offense.

Susan Page: Thank you. At this point, the candidates have a chance to ask each other questions. Each candidate has 15 seconds to ask a question. Then the other candidate has 60 seconds to respond to it. As a result of a coin toss, Mr. McAuliffe will ask his question first.

Terry McAuliffe: I was at Carilion the other day, a cancer facility. Patients there, they're on chemo. They're getting radiation, they're immunocompromised. Do you believe that that nurse who was there treating that immunocompromised cancer patient? Should she be required to be vaccinated? Not a PSA, required?

Glenn Youngkin: Yeah, I think that nurse should fully understand that getting the vaccination's the best way to protect her health and those around her. Of course, what's happened in our hospital system, and I have spoken with heads of hospital systems all over Virginia, and what they know is they've been they've they fought the spread of COVID with policies, with procedures, with testing, not with mandates. And here we go again, my opponent wants to mandate. I respect your ability to make decisions because that's what leaders do. If you disagree with Terry McAuliffe, like he said on TV, he's going to make your life difficult. He wants to make a Virginian's life difficult right now, and yet we need to come together and live and work together through this pandemic. And the last thing we need is a governor who's going to go to work to make everyone's life difficult.

Glenn Youngkin: Terry, you appointed Adrianne Bennett chair of your Parole Board. An Inspector General report came out and said they violated state law and she wrote emails that said, wave your wand of power, cut them loose. If you could do it all over again, would you appoint her chair of your parole board?

Terry McAuliffe: Listen, if anyone was in any position in Virginia, if someone did something inappropriate as I have governed, people would be removed. I mean, I haven't been governor for four years. As you know, I always invested in parole. I put more resources in it. I tried to lift everybody out. That's why when I was governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I had the lowest recidivism rate of any state in the United States of America. I also had the lowest crime rate of any major state in America. So I would always bring the resources to bear and Glenn, if someone, something went wrong, I would fix it. That's what I always did on every agency that we had. And that's the difference between you and me. I mean, your plan, your economic plans would run Virginia into a ditch. Three independent studies have just come out. You'd cut 10 billion from education. 43,000 teachers would lose their jobs. That's not how you lift up Virginia. You've said the most important issue facing Virginia is election integrity. Those are your words. I don't think that's the most important issue, election integrity. That's the Trump-crazy 2020 stuff. I think the most important issue facing us is job creation. And that's what I'm going to work on. I'm gonna make sure every one of our state agencies.

Candace Burns: After George Floyd's murder, widespread demonstrations called for police reform and transparency. Both of you have promised to bring people together while keeping Virginia safe. That requires trust and accountability. In March, former law enforcement officials from across the country and the Law Enforcement Action Partnership wrote a letter to Congress calling for an end to qualified immunity for police officers. They argue police need the trust of the people they serve. But they say people don't trust law enforcement. Because they do not believe police are held accountable. They point to the qualified immunity doctrine, a controversial policy that protects officers accused of violating the Constitution while on duty. Mr. Youngkin, you have promised to oppose all efforts to end qualified immunity for law enforcement in the Commonwealth. What then is your plan to restore and maintain trust in communities where police serve? And how would you make certain that officers who violate the civil rights of citizens are held accountable?

Glenn Youngkin: Thank you for this most important question, because Virginia today is at a 20-year high murder rate. Now, my opponent's not surprised by that, because when he was governor, the murder rate went up 43%. We see across law enforcement agencies in the Commonwealth of Virginia, an absolute depletion of resources, manpower, shortages, equipment shortages, we have a funding problem, but we also have a morale problem. Qualified immunity protects law enforcement heroes from frivolous civil lawsuits, not when there's dereliction of duty, and I haven't met a single law enforcement hero who does not want to root out bad police. But we're going to protect qualified immunity and my opponent is going to get rid of it. That's why 50 sheriffs endorsed me, 50. And that's why my opponent only has four is because law enforcement trusts me to stand up for safe communities and invest the funds necessary to make Virginia safe again.

Candace Burns: Mr. McAuliffe, would you end qualified immunity?

Terry McAuliffe: No, I would not end it. It's called qualified immunity for a reason. Any officer who's acting in good faith should and will have the full protections of the Commonwealth of Virginia. You don't want anyone going out there putting their lives at risk, and us not having their back. But if you have a law enforcement officer who breaks the law, that's where qualified immunity ends. That's why we call qualified immunity. But I will always step up and protect our law enforcement because they're out there every day protecting us. When I was governor, I did the compression pay, about $14 million for the sheriffs, I got 1000 sheriffs off of SNAP benefits. I gave pay raises for law enforcement as well as the state police. I leaned in every day. And guess what, that's why I'm the only governor in Virginia history to be named an honorary sheriff. I was very proud of the Sheriff's Association gave me that award. But the most important thing is that when I was governor, we had the lowest crime rate of any major state in the United States of America. Not second, not third. Lowest. Why? I invested lifted up helped brought communities together.

Glenn Youngkin: So again where I started, you'll hear lies, excuses and extreme policies. And what my opponent has done is completely recanted on what he said when he was trying to get the nomination, which is he would in fact reform or remove qualified immunity. This is why the law enforcement community doesn't trust him. Standing up for Virginians is more than just rhetoric and political statements. It's about actions. And that's why the law enforcement community trusts me. We're going to go to work together to invest in law enforcement, bring communities together, and reestablish Virginia as one of the safest places in America as opposed to having four of the most deadliest cities in America today.

Terry McAuliffe: I can speak to my record. As I said, we had the lowest crime rate in America. I got the awards from the Sheriff's Association as well as the state police and others. I work very closely, that lowest crime rate in America and what I worry about. If you look at his economic plan, Washington Post wrote about it the other day, it will defund the police. His cuts will be so severe that $250 million will be cut from the sheriff's and $138 million will be cut from law enforcement. That's what you're gonna get. Washington Post just wrote this the other day, three independent analyses have come out and his economic plan. That's why the Post today said if you vote for Glenn Youngkin, you're making a grave error.

Bob Holsworth: Mr. McAuliffe, your position on the budget and taxes are starkly different from Mr. Youngkin, who's endorsed a series of tax rebates and rollbacks, along with new restrictions on the fiscal authority of local government and raising property taxes. Could you explain why you're not proposing tax reductions? And exactly what's at stake in this election, for the future of the Commonwealth as voters choose between your competing ideas?

Terry McAuliffe: Well, first of all as you know, if the governor doesn't do property taxes, that's a local issue. So let me just say what I'll do as governor is build a booming economy as I did before, created a large amount of revenue, I left with a big surplus. When I came into office, I had to call the legislators into special session who were here. I had to raise a $2.4 billion hole in our budget. I ended up leaving a big surplus growing economy. But if you look at Glenn's plan, it's been ridiculed. I mean, the Roanoke Times, right up the street, said it would run our economy into the ditch, The Washington Post said it would run our economy into the ditch, his plan would take $10 billion out of education. It would cut 43,000 teachers right here, right here in this county. 266 teachers would be lost $250 million in cuts, to our sheriffs, to our law enforcement. 138 million. These aren't my words, three independent reports have just come out saying come out and make all these you know, big pie in the sky. his advisors, Donald Trump, this guy, Stephen Moore. So you know, Mr. Trump did to the country and now they want to bring that to Virginia at this time.

Glenn Youngkin: Thank you. So you know, God made me with a big nose. But Terry McAuliffe has racked up so many Pinocchio's I'm afraid you can't fit in the building. Everything he's just said is categorically false. The studies he's claiming that have been written weren't even on my plan. And if you'd read my plan, Terry, you would know that. in fact, just yesterday, the Jefferson Institute came out with a scoring of your plan is that it would cost Virginians $8 billion, nearly $5,500 per Virginian. By the way, if Terry McAuliffe is your next governor, get your checkbook out, because he's gonna have to raise taxes for you. My plan, in fact, recognizes that our economy stalled under his leadership, the states around us have blown by us. We need to bring down the cost of living because the liberals in Richmond have been over-taxing Virginians to the tune of $2.6 billion, they're going to do it again. And that's your money. And Terry McAuliffe thinks it's his money. I'm gonna give it back to you.

Terry McAuliffe: First of all, we have a surplus this year. And that's because of the funds that we got from the federal government, $14.3 billion. So don't think this is a permanent that you can do. You've said you want to give the 2.6 back in tax cuts. Well, let me tell you how Virginia wall works. I have a rainy day fund and half goes in the wall. It's not your money to get back, you should learn the law. I will also tell you. What I would do and make sure that we continue to grow the economy bring in jobs, that will create a huge economic surplus.

Bob Holsworth: Let me just ask one quick question about the business climate that often comes up in these discussions. Would you support any law that weakened or repealed Virginia's right-to-work law and adjust very quickly to each candidate?

Glenn Youngkin: The short answer is absolutely not. And my opponent will. He looked at a camera and he said when the bill is going to come to his desk, he will sign it. And then every union endorsed him. And he's collected literally 10s of millions of dollars from the unions for his campaigns. I'm going to protect right to work because if we lose right to work, it's going to be the death knell for Virginia business and my opponent is going to get rid of it.

Terry McAuliffe: First of all, you know, Glenn always likes to bash the folks out there every day trying to make a living. I'm trying to raise the minimum wage. Glenn's against raising the minimum wage. Glenn has made hundreds of millions of dollars and he doesn't want to give some, you know, home health care worker who's cleaning bedpans, get her $15 an hour and give her benefits. There's a huge difference here. I want to raise the minimum wage. I want to help the workers here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. I'm for paid sick days. I think it is unbelievable that someone with COVID or a serious illness has to go into work because they can't afford not to go into work.

Susan Page: Mr. Youngkin, former President Trump has endorsed your campaign and you've embraced his endorsement. This month, Trump raised questions about the integrity of this election, as he has about his and other elections without evidence. He said, quote, you know how they cheat in elections, the Virginia Governor's election, you better watch it. You have a close race in Virginia, but it's not close. If they cheat. My question. Do you believe there has been significant fraud in previous Virginia elections? And do you agree with President Trump, that Democrats may cheat in this one?

Glenn Youngkin: So I do not believe there's been significant fraud in Virginia elections. But I believe this is a democracy issue we're talking about, not a Republican issue, not a Democrat issue, although I want to remind everybody that my opponent when George W. Bush beat Al Gore, he stared into the screen and said they took the president from us. And he never acknowledged President Bush was legitimately elected president. I've said over and over again, that Joe Biden's our president, I wish he wasn't. I wish he handled Afghanistan better. I wish we didn't have runaway inflation. When he came to campaign with you, Terry, you embrace them. I think we need to invest in our election system, like Florida did after that hanging Chad incident, to the point where Florida's election system is trusted. It's trusted by all, voters in Virginians deserve that. And that's the kind of investment I'll make when I'm governor. I'll invest in making sure our voter rolls are updated. I'll ask everyone to show up to vote with a photo ID and Virginians will trust our election system.

Susan Page: You did say you didn't think there had been significant fraud in previous elections. But do you agree with former President Trump that Democrats may cheat in this one? Just yes or no.

Glenn Youngkin: No. I think we're gonna have a clean, fair election and I fully expect to win.

Susan Page: Mr. McAuliffe, to watch your campaign ads, Virginia voters might well think Donald Trump is on the ballot. When you had a chance during this debate to ask Mr. Youngkin a question, you mentioned Trump, as you have in many of your paid ads. My question is, why have so many of your paid ads and your rhetoric mentioned Trump, in an election focused on the people of Virginia and an election that presumably should be focused on your own proposals for what you would do as governor?

Terry McAuliffe: Because my opponent's a Trump wannabe. He's been endorsed by Donald Trump three times. He has said, I'm honored to have his endorsement. He's quoted saying, so much of the reason why I'm running is because of Donald Trump. That's his quote. So he's the one who's inserted Donald Trump here. And we know the damage that Donald Trump has done to this country. Look at the damage he's done on vaccines, if he had taken this COVID crisis seriously much earlier, hundreds of thousands of Virginians and Americans would be alive today, and thousands of Virginians. So he's the one who's inserted him. He's the one who said so much of the reason I'm running is because of Donald Trump. He's filing all Trump's policies. His economic adviser is Trump's economic adviser. So that's fair. But you know what? We're past all that. We've had a great eight-year run here. We have got, you look what's happened in this state over the last eight years, open and welcoming everybody. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs. We moved forward, we made our state open and welcoming. We're not going back. And he spent his entire campaign talking about election integrity.

Susan Page: I have the same question for both of you. Mr. Youngkin, you first. If the state certifies that you lost this election, even narrowly, will you pledge tonight to recognize Terry McAuliffe as the legitimately elected governor?

Glenn Youngkin: Absolutely. But I don't expect that to be the case. And the reason is that what Terry has done tonight is once again glossed over his real record over the last eight years. Let's just be clear, Virginia has created 44,000 jobs not hundreds of thousands of jobs and the states around us have created six to eight times that amount. The states around us are winning and Virginia has been losing and that's the legacy that you left Virginia families are moving away faster than they're moving here because they're not the job opportunities they want and the customer time is and that's why my day one gameplan is going to be to get Virginia moving.

Susan Page: Mr. McAuliffe, if the state certifies that you lost this election, even narrowly, will you pledge tonight to recognize Glenn Youngkin as the legitimately elected governor?

Terry McAuliffe: Absolutely. But we're gonna win. And we're gonna win because we hit a great record. When I was governor. He talks about his day one plan, his day one plan will be to unleash COVID because he doesn't believe we should mandate vaccinations. I remind you that when I was leaving office in April of 2017, I was invited to his conference. He sat there, praised me and said, How did you do it? Governor, how did you create all those jobs? How did you make Virginia the great state? Those were his words at his conference in April of 2017. I don't know what's happened over the last four years.

Candace Burns: Right now school districts in Virginia are exploring how to address race and gender in schools. Mr. McAuliffe, Virginia passed a law last year to better protect transgender and nonbinary students and the Department of Education issued expanded policies for public schools to follow starting this year, but there has been backlash in Loudoun County teachers who disagree with rules filed a lawsuit against the school system. And some school boards have rejected or delayed adopting the state's policies altogether, after an outcry from parents. Should school board members who are elected by voters be allowed to make their own policies that best fit their communities without facing penalties?

Terry McAuliffe: Yeah, I've always felt that school boards have the pulse of the local community, they should be making their decisions. I hate all of this divisiveness that is going on today. I hate to see our children being demonized today. I just really dislike it. You know, I'm talking about building this big new economy like I did before. I can't do it without the best education system in the country. And I remind everybody here, we are the number one state for business twice. In the last two years. We're the first state in America to get it. We are the number one state in America today for higher ed, we're number four in America today for K 12. Those are facts. We're doing great. But Candace, we need to make sure that we're taking it to the next level. I have a real plan, not one that's going to cut 43,000 teachers, I have a plan, $2 billion. What I'll do is raise teacher pay above the national average for the first time ever. I promise every student in Virginia, I'll have broadband to you within two years. I'll make sure we diversify our teacher base. But I want a school community that will love and respect one another. We're teaching the best education. I worked in a bipartisan way with these Republican legislators to make sure we were adding more science and math into our K through 12 courses, I worked in a bipartisan way.

Candace Burns: Mr. Youngkin, critical race theory, or CRT is a term that has been become controversial in school board meetings and calls confusion in terms of its definition. You have promised to ban CRT and in recent interviews, you have said quote, critical race theory has moved into all schools in Virginia. But you provided little proof for this claim. Virginia's learning standards do not mention critical race theory. And there is no statewide list of schools that teach CRT that would allow for an objective count. So how do you define critical race theory? And can you explain how you would ensure diversity, equity and inclusion in schools?

Glenn Youngkin: Thank you for this most important question. Critical race theory has been in our schools for quite a while. And in fact, the first instance I can find is actually during Terry's time as governor, where the Board of Education ran a training session. And in fact, had a module teaching critical race theory in the classroom. You go to the Board of Education website today, and one of the recommended books is the foundation of critical race theory in education. So to think that is not in our schools is absolutely bogus. Now, the problem with critical race theory is that it teaches our children to actually view everything through a lens of re-embracing, in direct contravention to those immortal words of Dr. Martin Luther King who, who asked us to judge one another based on the content of our character, not the color of our skin. I want our children to thrive. Mr. McAuliffe wants to lower standards in the schools and impress Ford with the leave every child behind education philosophy, I will preside over the largest education budget in history. And we're going to reestablish the standard of excellence.

Terry McAuliffe: His education plan would cut 43,000 teachers. I really hate like, he's talking about critical race theory that's not taught in our schools. But what I hate is this is a big dog whistle. I really hate it. It divides people. I'm about bringing people together. We have a great K12, are ranked fourth in the United States of America. Fourth, but we got to do our work. We have schools, 50% of our schools are 50 years old. I was in Bristol the other day, 87-year-old school, we got to fix that we got to rebuild. Now we have all this money from the federal government in the American rescue plan, which Glenn said was unnecessary.14 billion into Virginia, 3 billion for schools. That's a good thing.

Glenn Youngkin: Mr. McAuliffe keeps mischaracterizing. And in fact, lying about my education program, we're going to preside over the largest education budget in the history of Virginia. He doesn't like that fact. So he makes up his own.

Susan Page: Virginia is a state with a long and complicated history. Last week, there were strong emotions when the statue of Robert E. Lee, president of the Confederacy was removed from a place of honor in Richmond on monument Avenue. What went through your mind when you saw that statue? Come down?

Terry McAuliffe: I was happy. They were signs of division and hate. When I was governor. I always tried to make this Commonwealth an open and welcoming place I leaned in. I ban the Confederate flag from the Virginia license plate. I don't want any symbols of hope or racism or division. We are only going to be successful is if we work together, join together, get people vaccinated, invest in education in recruit those jobs. But we're not going to recruit these jobs if we have someone who wants to ban abortions.

Susan Page: Mr. Youngkin, what went through your mind when you saw the statue of Robert E. Lee come down?

Glenn Youngkin: What I thought was the statement I heard from Terry McAuliffe when he was governor that the statue of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson should be left alone. I felt the Supreme Court decision reflected the law locally that the decision was made to bring the statue down. That's where I believe these decisions should be made. I think that statue should be in a museum or on a battlefield so we don't airbrush away our history. If we don't know our history, we don't learn our history. we're destined to repeat it. And I think this is the brain this is a way to bring all Virginians together around a path forward as opposed to constantly looking back.

Susan Page: Each candidate will now have two minutes to make a closing statement as a result of a coin toss. Mr. Youngkin, you go first.

Glenn Youngkin: Thank you. First I'd like to thank my amazing wife Suzanne. You make me better every day. Thank you for being here. Terry, thank you for being here. We live in turbulent and challenging times. My opponent wants to paint over that reality with myth truce with excuses and with extreme positions he wants to distract you from those issues that are most important to Virginia's today as we come together to build a better day. How do we work and live through this pandemic? How do we provide a great education for our kids? How do we make our communities safe again, my opponent is very comfortable lying but the numbers don't lie. Over taxation and over-regulation stalled out our economy when he was governor. It never recovered. Today we are ranked 44th in the nation in job recovery. We have a 20-year high murder rate and yet my opponent embraces radical groups that want to defund police and close prisons. We watch our education system fail our children because he has sold out to the teacher's unions, and the cost of living in Virginia is absolutely running away from us. Virginians you have a choice? Do you want tired old recycled policies from a tired politician? Or do you want to embrace someone new, a business leader who knows how to create jobs and get things done? On day one, we will cut your cost of living by reducing your taxes. We'll reinvest in law enforcement so that we have the best in the country will reinvigorate our job market will create 400,000 jobs and foster 10,000 new startups. We in fact are going to reestablish an expectation of excellence in our schools by investing the largest education budget in the history of Virginia. And we're going to make Virginia's government work for us, as opposed to telling us what to do. My fellow Virginians, it's about leadership. Tonight, I asked for your vote. I asked you to partner with me to make Virginia the best place in America to live and work and raise a family.

Terry McAuliffe: Thank you. First, let me thank the Appalachian school all for having us here today. And thank all of you for being with us watching on TV. I have my wife here, Dorothy, I thank her and through her reference, 13 million more meals were served to needy children my last year in office and I thank her for that. But it's in COVID stuff. Most of the analysis says it'll be with us for another 18 months. You need someone with some experience who's done this job. For to lead us through it. When I was governor before I came in with an economy and chaos, got to work, created 200,000 new jobs, personal income went up 14%. I did it by working in a bipartisan way. I worked in a bipartisan way on transportation, on education on job creation and so many other issues on Veterans, the first state to end veteran homelessness when I was governor, very proud of that. We work together, I have 20 big plans. If you go to my website 20 plans of what I'd like to do real plans. And you look at education, $2 billion investment, we've got to pay our teachers above the national average for the first time ever, we've got to make sure that every child has access to broadband and health care. I want to lower premiums, lower drug prices. As Governor, I'll get us a section 1332 waiver, I'll stand up our own marketplace, Virginia, and we'll be able to bring those premiums down. It's working together on these big issues why so many Republicans have actually endorsed me, former delegates, Bill Kristol, one of the most conservative writers in America, why Terry has the experience of getting this done. And that's what we need here in Virginia because we've got tough times ahead. And we can't go with a candidate who is too extreme. He's a Trump wannabe. He's endorsed by Donald Trump three times. He said he was honored to have his endorsement. He wants to ban abortions here in Virginia. The number one issue we talked about the entire campaign was election integrity. The big issue, I'm talking about our jobs, economic development, that's how you grow to invest in education, lifting up healthcare. He's gone as far as to say, it's so much of the reason I'm running is because of Donald Trump. Let me be clear to all of you in Virginia. I'm running for you. Thank you very much. And please vote.

The full video of the debate is available below:



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